Regular Faculty Member
Dr. J. Allan Mitchell
Allan Mitchell teaches and writes about various aspects of medieval literature and culture. He has just completed the book Becoming Human: The Matter of the Medieval Child (UMP, forthcoming).
His other books are Ethics and Eventfulness in Middle English Literature (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) and Ethics and Exemplary Narrative in Chaucer and Gower (D.S. Brewer, 2004), recipient of a John Fisher Award.
He also edited John Lydgate's The Temple of Glas (MIP, 2007). And his articles have appeared in Medium Aevum, Comparative Literature, Studies in Philology, Exemplaria, Notes & Queries, The Chaucer Review, and Milton Quarterly.
Courses taught include ENGL 343 (Later Middle English), ENGL 344A (The Canterbury Tales), ENGL 344B (Chaucer's Troilus and Minor Works), ENGL 359 (Sixteenth-Century Poetry & Prose), and ENGL 410 (Intellectual Backgrounds to Literary Traditions), and grad seminars on such topics as "Moral Fictions," "Becoming Human in the Middle Ages," and "London Literature."
Before coming to Victoria, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Bristol and a lecturer at the University of Kent, Canterbury.
Selected Faculty Publications
Becoming Human: The Matter of the Medieval Child
University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming
Attending to congeries of animate and inanimate matters, this book argues that human identity was articulated across a range of textual, visual, and artefactual assemblages from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries. The formation of the child exposes the degree to which the human learns to dwell with and among a welter of things. Mitchell draws on the posthumanities and post-natural ecology but expands their purview to offer a longer historical perspective on the fate of the human. Returning to early ideas of chaos, epigenesis, virtuality, animation, and cosmogony, the book back the modern inheritance of speculative notions that are usually considered in isolation from the past.
Ethics and Eventfulness in Middle English Literature
Palgrave Macmillan, 2009 (The New Middle Ages)
Medieval writers were fascinated by fortune and misfortune, yet the critical problems raised by such explorations have not been adequately theorized. Mitchell invites us to consider these contingencies in relation to an "ethics of the event." His book examines how Middle English writers including Chaucer, Gower, Lydgate, and Malory treat unpredictable events such as sexual attraction, political disaster, social competition, traumatic accidents, and the textual condition itself - locating in fortune the very potentiality of ethical life.
John Lydgate: The Temple of Glas
Medieval Institute Publications, 2007
A new edition of Lydgate's Temple of Glas. An extremely elusive and suspenseful dream vision - and for that reason a highly sensational erotic poem that demands close attention to formal detail and the dynamic way in which meaning unfolds.
Ethics and Exemplary Narrative in Chaucer and Gower
Boydell & Brewer, 2004 (Chaucer Studies)
Why do medieval writers routinely make use of exemplary rhetoric? How does it work, and what are its ethical and poetical values? Borrowing from recent developments in ethical criticism and theory, this book addresses such questions by reconstructing a late medieval rationale for the ethics of exemplary narrative. Mitchell argues that Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Gower's Confessio Amantis attest to the vitality of a narrative - rather than strictly normative - ethics that has roots in premodern traditions of practical reason and rhetoric. Chaucer and Gower are shown to be inheritors and respecters of an early and unexpected form of ethical pragmatism - which has profound implications for the orthodox history of ethics in the West.